Tuesday, 31 March 2009

St Thomas a Becket, Fairfield, Kent

Many churches might describe themselves as ‘tranquil’, but few can live up to the description as well as Fairfield.

Set in a field in Romney Marsh, surrounded by water courses and with sheep nibbling grass by its entrance, Fairfield is truly a magical spot. The village it once served has long since disappeared, but the church has somehow survived. It is now part of a parish which includes the wonderfully-named villages of Brenzett and Snargate.

Dedicated to St Thomas a Becket, from the outside Fairfield looks rather severe – the 13th century timber frame was encased in brickwork in the 18th century, and its immense roof covered in red tiles. But entering the interior is like going back in time – the Georgian interior feels as though little has changed for over 200 years. Close the heavy door behind you, and all is peaceful and silent, except for the muffled sound of the wind. It is truly evocative of a bygone age.

Although parishioners once arrived here by boat, now you can get there via a small minor road leading from the A259 between Rye and Ashford. The key is held in a house 100 metres away, and then it’s under a 5 minute walk across the fields to the church. The land around is still flat and marshy, however: there’s a wonderful black and white photograph at the back of the church showing it standing like an island surrounded by floods in 1960.

Bring wellies if it’s been raining.

Fairfield, near Brookland, Kent, TN29 9RZ

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